Know Your Audience: How to Develop Buyer Personas

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it…your marketing efforts have failed. We can shout our message to the masses, but if we’re not talking to the right people, no one will hear it – and no one will care. That’s why it is imperative to know your audience, and one of our go-to ways to do this is by developing buyer personas.

Solid personas can take customers/clients/users on a true journey that is tailored to their interests and desires. It helps us say the right thing to the right person, at the right time. If we definitively know who we are selling to, our message becomes more personal and we can engage longer. And those components work together to maximize our marketing investment while making the most impact on our bottom line.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional depiction of our ideal customer, based on quantitative and qualitative analysis of our audience.

Why are buyer personas important?

You are an expert in your field, and undoubtedly have a great deal of knowledge about your customers, but how are you using that knowledge? Without mobilizing consistent tools to help us effectively implement that knowledge company-wide, it’s difficult to really know and cater to our ideal customer.

Simply put, personas empower us to personalize or target our marketing for different sections of our audience, while helping to prioritize the messages and tactics that have the most potential to move the needle.

What goes into a buyer persona?

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research and insights we gather from our actual customer base – through surveys, interviews, focus groups, data and analytics, etc. We can go different directions in terms of buckets, or overarching themes, to target for our personas. A couple examples include:

  • We can take our primary business goals and create one or more buyer personas that are representative of the ideal customer that will help us reach that goal. For example, a persona to support a goal of customer growth within a specific category, and another to support an overall brand awareness goal.
  • This could include a persona for a C-Suite decision maker, a persona for a procurement professional and another for a sales and marketing contact within an organization.

How do you research buyer personas?

The buyer persona process is just that, a process. And like any good process, it takes some time and elbow grease. But the resulting resource is so valuable, that we recommend exhausting the entire process, even if it needs to be stretched out over a longer time period based on other projects and priorities.

The most helpful information will come from interviews of customers, prospects and referrals. These can take place in person or over the phone to discover what individuals like about our product or service. Interviews include a list of questions, some that seem relevant and some ambiguous, but all will be put together to help paint a holistic, realistic picture of who we are talking to.

How do you put it all together?

Once you’ve gone through the research process, you’ll have all kinds of glorious data about potential and current customers to leverage. Roll up those sleeves, it’s time to distill that data down into actionable content. Use your research to identify patterns and commonalities among question responses to develop at least one primary persona.

How do you use a buyer persona?

Fleshed-out buyer personas can be leveraged organization-wide to optimize efficiency and effectiveness across marketing, sales and service.

For your organization that may result in reallocation of a greater percentage of ad spend to the digital space to more efficiently reach the people you can help the most with your offer. Or, it may prompt creation of a targeted drip campaign to a segment of your audience, using language that is not only familiar to those individuals, but impactful. Even still, you might create tailored landing pages for specific personas, using a value-added offer to drive traffic to that destination.

In summary

The buyer persona process can be a beast, but the returns are worth it. Need a creative partner to guide you through? Let’s work together.